Selfies: A Grey Area

by Byrdon Clark


These world leaders faced widespread criticism after snapping a selfie at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service in 2013. The photograph, though itself not a selfie, was analyzed as extremely inappropriate by the media—and the First Lady’s apparent look of disapproval only advanced the narrative.

Selfies have become a common trend—but as they have become more popular, their appropriateness (of when to take, or even post) has become difficult to discern. “A Selfie’s Grey Area” will explore a selection of selfies to draw a very general spectrum for when they can be freely taken—with one simple express thesis: the appropriateness of when or when not to take a selfie is anything but black and white.

New York City’s MoMA is the perfect place for this small, exploratory exhibition, as it rests nestled in the range of the young and the old alike in one of the most important cities in the world. While the exhibit will adopt a broad outline for the “appropriateness spectrum” of selfies, it will in no way tell the viewer the way things are. The point is that the appropriateness of selfies is—like some selfies themselves—greyscale.